January and February has seen a good few new things come into my life, and so I seem to have landed on a once-a-month feature at least for now. My currently loving feature here on Splodz Blogz is my excuse to share with you a few of the things, some might be from that new pile, others might be very old, that I’m particularly enjoying right now. It’s most often actual things I own, although it might also be experiences or days out, and it might be music or videos or other things.
As always, once you’ve read mine, I’d love to hear about the things, books, films, walking routes, food, and other stuff you are currently loving. Tell me everything in the comments box below or send me your links over on twitter…
Please note that there are some affiliate links on this page, but this post is not an advertorial or sponsored.
01. Pacmat Thermal Sit Mat
I bought my Dartmoor OS map Pacmat Picnic Rug ages ago, maybe a couple of years, and I absolutely love it. It is so useful for picnics, barbecues, camping trips and more. I have even been known to carry it on day hikes when I’ve wanted something to sit on at lunchtime that’s not just my coat, and while it is a very nice luxury item, I have had to admit I don’t need anything that big to sit on to have my lunch when I’m out on my own. I therefore treated myself to the much smaller and lighter Pacmat Thermal Sit Mat in the sales after Christmas. I also got this one from the Ordnance Survey shop but this one is plain coloured – a nice bright yellow. It opens out to 60cm x 60cm, plenty big enough for one bum, packs down to 13cm x 10cm x 4cm, therefore fitting in the side pocket of my bag with no issue, and weighs just 100g, making it easy to carry. It is certainly much better than my other one for shoving in my pack for trips when I don’t need to share with anyone else. At £17.99 (I paid a bit less in the sale), it’s probably a little on the pricey side for a couple of pieces of material sewn together, but it is very well made, very hard wearing, works perfectly, and I would highly recommend Pacmat to anyone looking for a decent and hard wearing picnic blanket for when the weather gets a bit better (hopefully soon!). You can see the full mappy range on the Ordnance Survey website, and the full Pacmat range on the Rubbastuff website.
02. Wall Hanging my Bass Guitar
I’ve always wanted my bass guitar on the wall. A bit like the campervan dreams I had when I was a child, I also dreamed of having a fancy “music room” in my house like I imagined all the big rock stars to have, with a baby grand piano, and a selection of guitars hanging around the walls. It was to be a colourful room with bookcases full of sheet music, a nice sound system, and all the musical toys I could ever wish for. And while I have grown up to love playing and listening to music, my trombone and bass guitar have always been kept in their cases in the corner of a room out of the way, and there is no sign of that piano. This Christmas I received a bracket to hang my bass on the wall in the spare room – it might just be the one, but I love that it is up on display, it makes me smile. We chose this Hercules metal bracket to hang the bass from its neck, and it works perfectly. Now I just need four or five more guitars to hang next to it to get the music room really started…!
03. Joining the Bum Bag Brigade (Again)
Have you seen that bum bags are making a comeback? I remember having one when I was a kid. It was brightly coloured, definitely green based, and was perfect for carrying all my important kid things in. At the time I wasn’t aware whether it was cool or not, I guess I didn’t care. They went out of fashion for a bit, but I’ve recently seen lots of people using them. In the hiking community I see people using them when they don’t have a pack with hip pockets, to keep their phone, snacks and wallet close to hand at all times. In the backpacking community they are being used to keep valuables safe rather than having them stuffed in a pocket that might be more easily accessed on their back. And then there are the fashionable people, wearing them as some kind of statement instead of a bog standard cross-body bag. I bought The North Face Lumbar Bum Bag (on sale at the moment) thinking that it would be great for short walks and wanders around town when I just want a few bits but don’t want a day pack, and it has already proved its worth on holiday where I used it to carry my camera, phone, passport, wallet, and a snack or two. I either wear it around my middle as a bum bag should probably be worn, or across my body so the bag part is diagonally across my chest. It’s surprisingly roomy, very nicely made, and I don’t mind if I’m not cool!
04. Little Step Stool
It really is the simple things in life, right? I am short, and as such the tins and packets I choose to keep on the top shelf in my kitchen cupboard are a bit of a reach involving a dining chair. Until now… I bought a little folding step stool, and it’s brilliant. Okay, so the stool itself is nothing special, it’s a Vigar one I got from TKMaxx for less than £8, that I hide in the cupboard under the stairs when it’s not being used, but the fact that I can now reach everything without difficulty means it makes it into my currently loving this month. It is perfectly okay to buy things to make life easier, there is no shame in that.
05. The Best Barbecue Sauce
I have featured Tubby Toms sauces in a currently loving post before (Currently Loving, July 2019), and you know I must think something is pretty fantastic when it finds its way into the flat lay for a second time. We originally picked them up at a food market in Cheltenham, and have since been to their premises to buy more. It’s the Smokey Maple that means Tubby Toms makes it into this list for a second time, I thin it might be the best barbecue sauce I’ve ever had. It just seems to work with everything – as an addition to beef and chicken burgers, as a glaze on fish fillets or used when slow cooking, and as a dip on the side of almost anything. I’m told they supply this stuff to Weber for their BBQ Chefs, which is a pretty good advert. Anyway, try some, it’s good.
06. Cork Ball of Doom
As I get older (ugh to that!) I find I struggle more with tight muscles and the resulting aches, especially when I hike and carry a pack. It’s mainly my feet and lower legs, and when I leave it, it only gets worse. Soaking in a warm bath and using my foam roller definitely helps, but they’re not exactly portable, so I took the advice from a couple of hiking YouTubers I watch occasionally and bought myself a cork massage ball (I have this one from TriggerFairy but there are loads available) that I can carry with me in my pack. I could have used a tennis ball, but this is smaller (6cm diameter) and harder than that, and being cork it’s also very light indeed. It’s proved it’s worth already, I particularly like using it on my feet at the end of a day outside, it does definitely help. I shall be making this part of my multi-day hiking kit, for sure.
07. Boot Buddy
Did you see this on Dragon’s Den? My sister got me this Boot Buddy for my birthday, and it is so useful! I normally clean my hiking boots and motorbike boots with a hosepipe, but that uses an awful lot of water, and isn’t always that effective. I now use the Boot Buddy in combination with a tap to clean my boots, and it’s much more effective, even after the muddiest day out. It’s a very simple idea, the best inventions often are – there’s a scraper on one end to get rid of the worst mud before you start, and then you fill it with water (I even use warm water if I’m feeling particularly luxurious) and use the brush to clean the boots as the water comes out. I’m fortunate to have a utility sink that now doubles as my boot washing station, so I often don’t even have to wash my boots outside anymore! I’m using much less water and my boots are much easier to clean with this thing. Who’d have thought something from Dragon’s Den would actually make it into my house, and be good?!!
08. My Latest “Read” – Becoming, Michelle Obama
You’ll have seen other people recommend this book over the last few months, I’m sure, but I’m happy to add my voice to the crowd. Becoming, Michelle Obama’s memoir (represented in the picture by my beloved Sennheiser headphones), is fascinating read. I say “read”, but this has been my most recent audio book, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed hearing Michelle Obama read to me over the last couple of weeks. The book is full of reflection and personal storytelling, concentrating on the moments in her life that made her who she is now, including experiences of home and school as a child, getting her first job, losing people she loved, meeting and marrying Barack, and doing her best to make the White House as welcoming and inclusive as possible. It has been so interesting learning what it’s like to be the wife of the President of the United States, but also how it’s completely possible and hugely important to follow your dreams and fulfil your own needs in life. A beautifully written book that has filled me with warm feelings and made me smile. My next audio book is much more, er, educational. I’m working my way through Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. Now that is a book packed with things I won’t remember!
09. Tesalate Towel
I have wanted a Tesalate Towel for ages, and received one as a blogging gift a few weeks back (I include some of the things I get in the post in my weekly blog series if you’re interested). These are kind of a midway point between a normal beach towel you’d use by the pool (and are about that size) and a microfiber travel towel you’d use for backpacking. I’ve always been intrigued by the “sand free” properties, and I’m pleased to report that it does indeed repel the sand, very well. It has a strange feel to it, kind of like a textured microfiber towel in some ways, but it dries me very well and then dries out quickly. It is definitely that halfway point – easily as absorbent as a travel towel, but not as luxurious as a proper towel, small to pack, but not particularly lightweight. I chose the Leaf Me Alone version, which has a massive green banana leaf pattern on one side, and a cool black and white geometric design on the other. It’s a large 160 x 80cm, which means my short self fits on it, and I can use it as a cover-up if I need to. While it’s a bit heavy for backpacking, it has become be my go-to towel for when I’m road tripping by car or motorbike, and will be my towel of choice for the boot of the car when I’m heading off for a lake or sea swim, or just want to go paddling. It’s nice to have something a bit nicer than a thin microfiber towel when I have the space, and I know I’ll be getting a lot of use out of this.
10. Folk Tales Book
While I prefer audio books most of the time, there are some books that you just need to hold, like Animal Folk Tales of Britain and Ireland by Sharon Jacksties. This lovely little hardback book is full of short traditional stories, little-known facts and true anecdotes – folk in its best form. Split into several themed chapters such as Running Wild, Making Waves and Reclaiming the Right to Roam, the examples given on the back are that you’ll find out how hedgehog ended up with spines and what makes him scuttle so fast, discover how pigs saved a prince from leprosy and why the wealthy lord was so intent on capturing the black fox. I haven’t read all of the stories yet, but am very much enjoying dipping into the page-or-two long tales on a daily basis. This would make a lovely gift for anyone with a good imagination, or as a bedtime story book for kids who love animals. The only thing that would make it better would be some beautiful illustrations for each of the stories.
What are you currently loving this month? What do you think of my choices? Tell me in the comments below.
Want to see all my Currently Loving posts? This link should help.
PS… Don’t forget to read the first in my new series of Weekly Blogs. There are more of my favourite things in there, and probably my not so favourites some weeks, too!
In the interests of full disclosure, the Tesalate towel and Animal Folk Tales Book were gifted by brands/PR companies, but not for the purposes of this post. My Currently Loving feature is always and only things that I genuinely like. There are affiliate links on this page, the funds from which help me keep playing at this blogging game.